Amid very public spats over the past few days, the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have quietly decided to go their separate ways in the crucial Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC) polls. According to sources, at a meeting late on Monday, the Sena decided it would go it alone.
Tuesday is the last day to file nominations for candidates, and with the two parties nowhere close to an agreement, they are most likely to contest as rivals, not allies.
Senior leaders from the Sena, the largest party in the KDMC, confirmed that the alliance was on the verge of collapse after hectic negotiations between the two parties over seat sharing fell through over the past few days. After Tuesday, the two parties will have one last window of opportunity, up to October 16, the deadline for parties to withdraw their candidates.
Explaining why the two parties were unable to cobble together an alliance, a Sena leader, who did not wish to be named, said, “We are the largest party in KDMC right now and obviously we must contest the most number of seats. However, the BJP insists that we change this and instead go by the vote share in the recent state assembly polls. If we go by that logic, we will be reduced to contesting less than half the seats. How can we accept that?”
BJP sources said they were fine with a 50:50 seat-sharing ratio as long as the Shiv Sena recognised the changed political strengths of the respective parties. “Talks for a possible alliance are going on at the local level. We have left the decision to the local leadership,” said state BJP president Raosaheb Danve.
The BJP has already conducted a survey to estimate its strength, with preliminary findings showing that the party could end up with 35 to 37 seats, first in the pack, followed by the Sena. Unofficially, BJP leaders admitted that they were prepared with a candidate list for all 122 wards, just like the Sena.
“Unlike the assembly polls, in which our preparations were put off till we finalised seat sharing, this time we have been interviewing candidates for a while now and have more or less sealed our campaigns in individual wards,” said a Sena leader. Senior leaders of the Shiv Sena — its MLAs, vibhag pramukhs and shakha pramukhs — based in Mumbai had been given charge of wards at least a month-and-a-half in advance.